A decade of DOKU.TECH!
At the jubilee edition of DOKU.TECH, whose motto was ‘Bringing the Future Closer, Together,’ the impressively qualified keynote speakers faded curiosity about the latest trends in the world of technology. Presentations ranging from the evolution of Chat GPT (by Pamela Mishkin from Open AI), the financial decentralization efforts of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology (by author Shermin Voshmgir), and technologically facilitated gender-based violence (by Jelena Memet from Alternative Girls Center), all worked to achieve the ultimate goal of DOKU.TECH; to educate attendees about these technological advances that will continue to dominate the tech world for years to come. An emphasis on how attendees could make these technologies work for them, as well as the importance of growing and fostering communication of new technology to face Kosovo’s technological challenges and build a better future for it, was also effectively placed as these experts skillfully communicated the complexities of these advancements. Importantly, one very lively aspect of the event really worked to guide the conversation around these rapidly emerging technologies while showcasing the growing concern around how to navigate a future in which technology dominates every field; the audience.
The remarkable speakers of DOKU.TECH X edition ignited the stage with their outstanding keynote talks, starting with welcoming remarks from Mira Murati – CTO of OpenAI, to continuing with Pamela Mishkin from OpenAI, who familiarized the audience with OpenAI’s products such as DALL·E, and ChatGPT.
On the other hand, Paulina Chotrova and Nikolay Chotrov came all the way from Bulgaria to introduce us to the world of deep tech, bringing a new perspective on how deep tech can help with things outside our company, such as healthcare and many other industries.
Moreover, the list of speakers included internationals from a range of companies, from Mozilla Foundation such as Kasia Odrozek, who focused on how “AI makes decisions for us and on us, but not with us,” to Albanians with a focus on Large Language Models like Fatos Ismali from Microsoft, UK.
The talks during DOKU.TECH X were all focused on different aspects of technology. As Shermin Voshmgir, Founder of Token Kitchen and BlockchainHub, emphasized, “Technology is a tool, and how we use it is entirely up to us.”
As we got lost in the world of technology, Ralph Talmont brought a new approach by teaching us how to “embrace the power of connection as fuel to unleash a fresh perspective on things!”
Alternately, Maciej Kuziemski continued the flow of the talks by leaving a mark on all of us with his speech. “It is good to have a healthy dose of skepticism and to not blindly take predictions that face value both about the uniqueness of our times but also about what the future holds. “
Last but not least, from the speakers’ line, Jelena Memet brought a feminist perspective on technology. As she elaborated, “Women who step out from the private to the public space face online violence if they speak out about patriarchy and other unconventional topics.”
Unleashing the Power of Audience
Consisting largely of young students who represent the future creators and users of this advanced tech, questions about responsible usage, gender equity in tech, and technology’s effect on future job prospects loomed large as the audience voiced both their excitement and concerns about these ever-growing technologies. In one instance, one audience member, a female student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Pristina, inquired about the ever-present issue of unconscious bias being transferred to AI through its creators. In another, a young audience member showed his concern about technology replacing humans in various job fields – and what that means for his future. These questions, of course, were successfully fielded by the keynote speakers – the answers lying within being properly educated in bias recognition and the job creation aspect of these emerging technologies – however, the evidence that the youth are cognizant of these issues communicates that thoughtfulness and accessibility are seemingly the primary concerns of Kosovo’s young creators/users. This works to provide hope for the future development and usage of these exciting and new technologies.
DIY FAIR, Workshops, Panel Discussions, Meetups
Separately, another feature of DOKU.TECH this year that worked to both highlight young creators and showcase their thoughts on what technological advancements they see as important for building a better world was the DIY fair. Here, various student projects were on display ranging from computer-controlled rotating solar systems to the most accurately coded BMI calculator. Notably, projects concerning robotics built to aid blind students in getting to school and solar-powered transportation that would work to help offset harmful emissions were important features that, again, worked to illuminate the dominant concerns of these future leaders and the type of world they are hoping to live in/ striving to create; one that is accessible and environmentally sustainable.
There were over nine companies and organizations which came into the fair and showed their hands-on products. It is important to mention each of them since they made a significant contribution to DIY in connecting youth with each other and presenting very innovative products to the audience.
The aim of DOKU.TECH was not only to bring inspirational speakers from around the world but also to teach participants some hands-on skills. Thus, a wide range of workshops took place during the event, thus giving the opportunity to participants to gain knowledge on how to use VR glasses, learn more about AI, how people can engage in volunteer work in Kosovo, how technology and nature go together, and many other interesting activities co-organized by J-Coders, Kosovo Game Developers, Cacttus Education, Shkolla Digjitale, and many more. The visitors had the opportunity to be directly engaged in the presented projects, as well as learn and test new information firsthand.
Our participants had the opportunity of exploring prestigious companies and organizations with hands-on experience at the DIY (Do it Yourself) Fair of the walking robots, hand-build by the students of Vëllezërit Frashëri Lipjan, to the Game Exhibition, where Kosovo Game Developers were showcasing the video games created during Game Jam held back in March, where you have the chance to play, as well as experience the virtual world with the VR Glasses. The aim of this was to introduce different and new aspects of game creation, support networking between established game developers and those looking to get into the industry, provide a glimpse into the everyday professional life in the industry as well as a great opportunity for young people to enjoy themselves.
Two-day hackathon with Pamela Mishkin from OpenAI and AI Kosovo – During DOKU.TECH, more than 60 youngsters held a Workshop on Artificial Intelligence with the AI community in Kosovo and Pamela Mishkin on the foundations and implementation of AI. The workshop “Demystifying Natural Language Processing and Large Language Models” contributed to empowering Kosovo’s youth to embrace cutting-edge technology and conquer the future. Aimed to further educate young people on Artificial Intelligence Models and learn more about NLP, LLMs, and ChatGPT API.
“The Art of Surviving Online” Workshop held by Jelena Memet – Director of Alternative Girls Center, and by Arrita Rezniqi – Program Manager/ Coordinator of the Free Legal Aid Center of KLI, brought a lot of useful information regarding Digital Violence. Ms. Memet highlighted that “the consequences of digital violence are almost the same as with violence that occurs in physical violence!” Supported by UN Women Kosovo, Ms. Rezniqi presented to the young Kosovar girls a handy platform that provides direct legal aid, especially to young women and girls. “The platform is very user-friendly, and you can directly chat with lawyers,” as Ms. Rezniqi quoted. Ms. Arrita got acquainted the participants with the online interactive platform, which was built through the partnership with CSO Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), supported by UN WOMEN Kosovo through EU funded Program on Ending Violence against Women in Western Balkan and Turkey “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.” The platform aims to facilitate access to free legal aid for survivors, including for women from marginalized communities.
Addition to the agenda of DOKU.TECH this year was the Panel Discussion from Women in Tech Kosovo on “Artificial Intelligence and How it Impacts Women’s Representation,” moderated by Teuta Sahatqija. The set of panelists included:
- Ms. Donjeta Sahatçiu – Deputy Mayor of Municipality of Prishtina;
- Mr. Edmond Hajrizi – Founder and President of UBT – University for Business and Technology
- Ms. Monika Rizovska Tanevska – Ambassador of Women in Tech North Macedonia
- Mr. Fatos Ismali – Senior Data & AI Solutions Architect at Microsoft, UK
Ms. Donjeta Sahatçiu, deputy mayor of Prishtina, delved into the crossover between AI and policymaking during these times. “There is a risk that AI will increase inequality, and we as institutions have to utilize the help of organizations and the private sector to help us o act fast. Institutions are slow because it takes time to draft legislations and make regulations.”
Professor Edmond Hajrizi highlighted that “Most people are studying computer science. We have the biggest school of CIT in the Balkans. And from this, 50% are female”.
Ms. Monika Rizovska Tanevska – Ambassador of Women in Tech North Macedonia, also added: “What needs to be included is to have good quality representative data from women and diverse experiences.”
“It is so inspiring to see all of the young talents at DOKU.TECH and we need to harvest that here in Kosova, and we need to empower young people to push our society forward, and push these practices forward, as a team,” concluded Fatos Ismali, Senior Data & AI solutions architect at Microsoft, UK.
“The promise and peril of artificial intelligence and the role of an open ecosystem” Workshop brought by FLOSSK and Mozzila Foundation. Connecting Mozilla Foundation with Open Source Community in Kosovo. “The promise and peril of artificial intelligence and the role of an open ecosystem” held at Prishtina Hackerspace Garden, gathered together a dozen of young Kosovars to discuss furthermore on Artificial Intelligence, lessons from the previous era of open-source, its benefits and risks with Kasia Ozdrek, Director of Insights at Mozilla.
AI Speakers meetup with local organizations and businesses – The friendly meet-up included people that come from different tech backgrounds addressing a range of topics from real-time data to the importance of a family-friendly work environment. Considering that there’s a blank space of women at senior levels in tech companies in their 30s and 40s, Paulina Chotrova brought a new approach all the way from Bulgaria to tackle this issue. She shared with us the importance of kindergarten spaces at work, where women can have the room to work on their latest technology projects and at the same time not worry about their children being in the next room. These table conversations are a great way of bringing people together from different backgrounds to cooperate with one another, share innovative ideas, and network with one another. USAID Kosovo Compete Activity initiated this meet-up as one of the supporters of X Edition of DOKU.TECH.
DokuFest, our partner since day one, presented “FUTURA,” an Italian documentary film, during DOKU.TECH. The movie FUTURA enlightened us with the journey of our dreams and the challenges we overcome to get to the future we imagine for ourselves. It contributed to the theme of DokuTech. A great ending to the activities of DOKU.TECH X, with the movie screening that gave the participants the room for some rest and reflection on the hard work during these two days of bringing the future closer together.
Ultimately, DOKU.TECH 2023 successfully brought different-perspective discussions to attendees on these emerging technologies (as well as their positive and negative consequences). Additionally, given the rapidness with which these technologies change and improve and the level of engagement showcased by the audience, DOKU/TECH’s stated effort to bridge the ever-closing gap between the present and the future regarding these technological innovations was also successful. After 10 years, DOKU.TECH continues to inspire and bring to Kosovo the increasingly important need for technological literacy while encouraging and fostering technological innovation within its population. One can only hope for another successful ten years!
Save the Date for DOKU.TECH @Dokufest: August 5, 2023